It’s the first of three nights at Korakuen Hall as the G1 returned to Tokyo after a short break – and it’s block B in action this time with Kenny Omega headlining against Hirooki Goto.

Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero are on commentary, but ahead of the show, we had a brief ceremony for the late Masa Saito, including a ten bell salute with the roster at ringside.

Jay White & YOH vs. Michael Elgin & Ren Narita
The Switchblade’s hostile takeover of CHAOS continued here, as he looked to keep up the brainwashing of YOH.

After initially circling his opponent, White’s caught with a chop from Elgin before finding his shoulder block was rather futile. He tries chops of his own, but they’re shrugged off as Big Mike throws heavier chops, prompting White to scurry out and tag in YOH. That looked to give White a chance for a sneak attack, but Elgin overwhelms him before bringing in Ren Narita to try his luck with YOH… but the Young Lion is quickly dropped with a forearm.

That’s the cue for White to tag in and take him outside for some rough housing, taking him into the guard railings for a near-fall. Already Narita’s looking to be running on fumes, but he’s able to mount a brief comeback with forearms, only for the Switchblade to hit a chop… then run into a dropkick as Elgin gets the tag back in. More forearms from Elgin prompt White to run away, as Elgin remained undeterred… catching White in the corner with a lariat, then a gunshot-like back elbow, before a Saito suplex from White pressed the reset button.

Both men tag out as we’re back to YOH and Narita, with the Young Lion scoring a flying forearm before hauling him up for a deadlift belly-to-belly suplex. That almost gets the win, as does an inside cradle and a schoolboy as YOH was really on the back foot… which he then put through Narita with a superkick before a Falcon arrow turned it back around for the Roppongi 3K member. A Boston crab from YOH looked to beat Narita at his own game, and despite Ren going to the ropes, he’s dragged back in as the Young Lion tapped… before Jay White ran in to try and underscore it with a Blade Runner, only for Michael Elgin to make the save. A fun opener, with more than I expected out of YOH and Ren Narita here. ***

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado) vs. YOSHI-HASHI & SHO
After a disappointing start to his G1 for Minoru Suzuki, I predict pain for YOSHI-HASHI. Especially when Suzuki knocked down Yota Tsuji and Yuya Uemura with a single kick… they fell like dominoes!

Yeah, we’ve the Suzuki-gun jump start as Suzuki and YOSHI headed outside, as expected. Meanwhile SHO’s slammed with ease as Suzuki gets whipped chest-first into the crowd barrier amid some unexpected offence from YOSHI on the floor. In the ring, SHO’s turned it around against Desperado, taking him into the corner for some chops before SHO gets caught on the apron with a hanging armbar from Suzuki, who nearly backflipped down to the floor so he could take SHO back outside and into the railings.

We’re back in the crowd as YOSHI’s taken in front of the English commentary desk, where a chair’s thrown into him while the production crew miss whatever happened with Rocky Romero. I think Suzuki swung for him… on the other side of the room, Desperado used a fan’s crutch on SHO before taking him back inside. Suzuki gets hold of SHO again as he slapped him down to the mat, prompting some convulsions as the more sadistic side of Suzuki began to rear its head once more. It doesn’t let up much either as YOSHI came in… and eats a PK for a near-fall, before trying to fight back with forearms. It doesn’t work at first, but YOSHI’s able to trap Suzuki in a butterfly lock before SHO comes in to help with some double-teaming. SHO nearly gets the win from that, but Suzuki quickly gets revenge with a rear naked choke and a Gotch piledriver for the win. Decent enough once the tropes cleared, although I worry about how easy this looked for Suzuki… **½

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & BUSHI) vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
It’s EVIL vs. Makabe tomorrow, so here’s the expected warm-up, complete with “taken out of context” Henare.

There’s a jump start as BUSHI and EVIL double-team Makabe at the bell… but Makabe surges past and takes control over EVIL, throwing him into the corner for a lariat. Those mounted punches are easily avoided though, and all four men end up outside for the obligatory guard rail spots.

BUSHI’s in with a missile dropkick to Makabe before his neckbreaker drew a near-fall… a scoop slam off the ropes resets things for Makabe, as he tagged in Henare to help clear house. Forearms to BUSHI and a shoulder tackle took the masked man into the corner, ahead of a Samoan drop for a near-fall. A falling chop gets a similar result, but BUSHI manages to reverse things and bring EVIL back into it, with a back senton crushing Henare.

There’s more double-teaming as a superkick and a back cracker nearly puts away Henare, before EVIL surged ahead with a lariat as the Banshee Muzzle forced Henare to tap all while BUSHI had Makabe restrained with a t-shirt. Short and to the point… this one did little for me, but at least Makabe/EVIL tomorrow will be decent, especially since Makabe clearly is going into the match all riled up. **½

Firing Squad (Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay
You can guess the match for tomorrow – and I’d be confident in saying this isn’t the only time we’re seeing Fale and/or Tanga Loa tonight.

After bouncing off of Fale with a shoulder tackle, Finlay quickly tagged out as Hiroshi Tanahashi had a little more luck, finally taking the big man down with some low dropkicks. It’s perhaps a little too soon to try a Dragon screw, as Fale fights off, only to get a palm strike as Tanahashi finally scored with a Dragon screw… on the mat.

A Cloverleaf’s attempted next, but Tanga Loa rushes in to break it up, before tagging in to get a near-fall with a legdrop on Tanahashi. Fale’s back to throw Tanahashi into the guard rails as the pace slowed down a little, as the Firing Squad pair took over… helped by Tanga Loa sidestepping a crossbody into the corner from the Ace. Tanahashi manages to come back with a neckbreaker after he countered a suplex from Tanga… before bringing in Finlay to try his luck. It worked a little as a dropkick sent Tanga into the corner, eventually following in with a back suplex for a near-fall… helped along by an errant big splash from Fale. Tanahashi comes in to dropkick Fale back to the outside, and as my feed stutters it recovers just in time for Tanga Loa to dump Finlay with the Fire Thunder Driver (or “Apeshit” since commentary can’t call it) for the win. This never really got going for me, and continues the motif of matches with the Bullet Club splinter group being very much “meh”. **¼

Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Chase Owens) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo
Hangman Page has the biggest match of his career tomorrow, but first he and his Spaghetti Western Music’s got a warm-up!

It’s Gedo and Owens who start us off, with Gedo offering himself up for some early shots… but of course it was a trap. A trap that Chase managed to avoid as he rolled through into a Flatliner on Gedo, who’s then taken into the corner for Page to come in and have a go. There’s a standing shooting star press and a knee drop combo from Page and Owens as the pair looked to keep Gedo in the ring. It didn’t quite work as Okada’s in to catch Owens with a flapjack, before a DDT to Page drew a near-fall.

Okada looked for his Scooby Dooby Doo, but Page sidesteps and followed in with a lariat for a two-count, as the pair continued to look for a killer blow. A dropkick from Okada looked to be it, as both men tagged out again, allowing Gedo to continue the momentum against Chase Owens, almost winning with a superkick, then a Gedo clutch. Page breaks up that particular cover before catching Gedo and Okada with the Buckshot slingshot lariat.

On the outside, Okada looked for cover, but eats a shooting star headbutt off the apron, while Chase finished off Gedo with a package piledriver… and the Okada losing streak continues! Decent enough, but with not even a glimmer of hope from Okada, I’ve a feeling his dry spell is going to continue for quite some time. ***

G1 Climax, Block B: Tama Tonga vs. SANADA
I sense a LOT of interference… These two have met in the last two G1s, with Tama winning both times in block action… can he complete the hattrick and go 2-0 in this year’s tournament?

Both men try to fake out the other from the start, with SANADA preparing to leapfrog Tama early on, before they embarked on a rather methodical feeling out process, swapping hammerlocks before Tama stopped and offered a handshake. Yeah, it was a ruse as he sweeps the leg and puts SANADA in a Paradise lock… which he instantly escaped… because he knows how.

Tanga Loa tries to trip SANADA in the ropes, but referee Marty Asami only admonishes him as Tama looked to capitalise. They quickly head outside for a Benny Hill series, ending with a clothesline from Tanga Loa… who then gets ejected for his interference! In the meantime, Tama’s trying to think of a plan B, which seemed to feature him throwing SANADA into the guard railings. Eventually SANADA manages to hit back, pulling off a pair of leapfrogs before landing a dropkick, and now it’s time for the Paradise Lock!

A low dropkick frees Tama, sending him rolling to the outside for a plancha, before catching Tama in a Skull End… only for the counter to see Tama back up into the corner for an eventual ref bump. In the confusion, SANADA hits a Gun Stun, but there’s no ref… and now here’s the run-in as Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale hit the ring to double-team SANADA. A sit-out powerbomb from Tanga leaves SANADA laying, but he’s able to kick out from what looked like a fast count.

From the kick-out, SANADA blocks a Gun Stun and goes for an O’Connor roll, knocking Tanga Loa off the apron… and what do you know, it worked! SANADA gets the win after a decent match, although by now it’s been formalised that the Tama/Fale G1 matches are going to be “nothing happening until the run in” matches. You know, I wouldn’t mind the interference if it’s effective, but even commentary is railing on how Fale “threw away two points”, so it’s clear the constant BS isn’t for the sake of dominance. **

Yep, my pick ‘ems for today are broken in the first match!

G1 Climax, Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Toru Yano
A first-time singles meeting, and a big test for Yano’s vow to just wrestle here.

Of course, Yano goes straight to the turnbuckles as Sabre went after him to “stop him fucking around”. They break, as Yano looked to go to his grappling game, but Sabre’s more than even to it, taking Yano into the ropes for… break? We get the break, but Sabre’s right back in with an Octopus hold, which is initially escaped, before a follow-up sees Yano almost end up in Orienteering with Napalm Death. Fortunately, they’re in the ropes, as Yano heads to the outside.

Sabre followed him out, and gets thrown into the guard railings, then the crowd… but Zack saved himself with another wristlock, before an Octopus hold in the crowd looked to be Sabre’s way to victory… but Yano raced back into the ring to prevent the count-out. Back in the ring, they keep switching holds, but it’s Yano who edged ahead with a cobra twist as Sabre falls into the ropes, almost in disbelief.

Yano goes back outside, but he’s caught by Sabre who ties him in the guard railings, wrapping his legs and arms between the railings… a double wrist-lock winds down the clock, but somehow Yano freed himself in time and made it back in! With his own Yano-like tactics not working, Sabre seemed frustrated as he goes back to the submission game, wrenching away on the ankles and arms of Yano in the ring… but somehow Yano rebounds with a belly-to-belly! A sunset flip out of Yano draws a near-fall, before Sabre retaliated with a triangle armbar… he tries to powerbomb his way free, but Sabre clings onto the double wristlock with bodyscissors before Yano got a foot to the ropes. Sabre wasn’t exactly pleased with that, and after Yano tried to misdirect the referee for an attempted low blow, Sabre counters with a Euro clutch for a near-fall. Now we get the basics as Yano removes the turnbuckle padding, then tries to whack Sabre with it… it’s a swing and a miss, but the low blow connects as Yano almost won with a roll-up!

Sabre kicks out, but gets sent into the exposed corner as Yano undoes another turnbuckle pad… but a swing and a miss with the pad proved to be Yano’s undoing as Sabre finally eked out the win with a Gedo clutch. This was fun stuff, but the shock of “hey, Yano can do a wrestle” may wear thin pretty soon for the same bunch of folks who weren’t fans of his beforehand. ***¾

G1 Climax, Block B: Kota Ibushi vs. Juice Robinson
The storyline with Juice’s hand continues as he’s been told he’ll have to wear the cast for the rest of the G1, so you know the drill with the DQ stipulation here.

We start with a handshake between the pair as Ibushi tries to take down Juice… before finding that an armwringer is too close to the ropes, as Juice instantly grabbed the ropes for a break. An exchange of hammerlocks keeps Kota ahead, as does a kip-up when Juice managed to take him down with a shoulder tackle. Another exchange, this time of leapfrogs, leads to an armdrag from Juice, as my feed stuttered again, recovering in time to see Ibushi miss a Golden Triangle moonsault to the floor, while Juice capitalised with a cannonball off the apron.

Returning to the ring, Juice hits a crossbody off the top for a near-fall, then traps Ibushi in a camel clutch to continue the wearing down of the Golden Star. Chops come next from Juice as he took Ibushi into the corner… but a cannonball misses as Ibushi rolled to the apron, returning in with a springboard dropkick to reset things. A flurry of strikes from Ibushi complete the turnaround, as he decks Robinson for a standing moonsault. Another crack at the Golden Triangle’s stopped as Juice countered with a superplex instead, then a powerbomb as he almost took away the win.

Ibushi tries to springboard back into things, but a chop cuts that down, only for Kota to turn it up again with a ‘rana off the apron as Juice flew into the barriers! Kota keeps up the momentum with a moonsault off the goddamn ringpost into the crowd, eventually returning Juice back to the ring for a near-fall.

Just like that, Juice hits back though, avoiding a Kamigoye and throwing a lariat, but he ends up taking a kick to the head instead. Another Kamigoye attempt misses as Juice lands a leg lariat in return, then a fireman’s carry gutbuster for a near-fall as Juice turned it back around… but perhaps Pulp Friction was attempted a little too soon as Kota escaped it and looked for… a One Winged Angel?! Instead he drops Juice down and into a strait-jacket German suplex, before nailing Kamigoye for the win. A solid match that was missing a little something for me – with commentary teasing that this was perhaps a set-up for an Ibushi title match in the States in September. ***½

G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii
The eighth singles meeting between these two, and they’re both batting .500 as they’ve been swapping wins. Last year’s G1 saw Ishii take the W, so perhaps history will repeat itself?

Naito’s over-the-top ring gear takes a little longer than usual to remove, as he calms down the crowd before the bell. He does have the lion’s share of the crowd behind him though, and when we do get going Ishii takes Naito into the ropes. There’s no clean break, and Naito quickly turns the tables before sending Ishii onto the apron as a rapid-fire series ends with them going outside and into the guard railings.

Returning to the ring, Naito keeps up on Ishii with elbows to the head, but Ishii shrugs it off and asks for more… which he duly receives. A missed low dropkick from Naito just puts him in place for a low dropkick from Ishii, who fires back with plenty of chops to knock the Ingobernable loopy! Naito’s trying to laugh through it, but eventually a chop aimed at the throat puts him down on the mat.

Naito tries to punch back in and throw a chop… but Ishii too shrugs it off and asks for more, before taking some elbows and responding with another throat chop. There’s a neckbreaker from Naito to buy himself some time, keeping up with a reverse neckbreaker and the outside-in dropkick in the corner as he found a second wind. A second wind that’s quickly stopped by Ishii, who begins to toy with Naito, brushing him with boots as the Ingobernable got back to his feet. Boots to the face force Naito into the corner, but it also forces a fightback… only for a chop to the head to really piss off Ishii. How do you know that? A chop to the throat’ll tell you pretty quickly.

More of those keep Naito pinned in the corner, before a back suplex leaves Naito on the mat once more. A quick flurry from Naito sees him boot Ishii in the face after he escaped a suplex, but Ishii’s right back on him after a missile dropkick’s shrugged off, with a shoulder barge taking Naito back into the corner. Ishii looks to curtail things with an avalanche brainbuster, only for Naito to counter with a Hiromu-like sunset bomb into the ring for a near-fall.

Ishii’s right back with a release German suplex, then a clothesline against the ropes… but Naito returns with a flying forearm and a swiping palm strike to the face as an Ishii headbutt barely registered. A big DDT sees Naito counter a brainbuster, but he’s quickly flipping as a discus lariat from Ishii continues the heavy hits! Another headbutt decks Naito, and it looked like the end was nigh when Ishii dishes out a Last Ride powerbomb and a sliding lariat for a pair of near-falls.

Ishii looks for the brainbuster next, but Naito escaped and goes for Destino… only to get clocked with a pair of lariats. He still kicks out though, then avoids a brainbuster as he hit back with an enziguiri. Another Destino’s blocked as Ishii hits the enziguiri, before a brainbuster out of nowhere was finally countered into Destino! That’s good for a near-fall, before one more Destino finally gets the win for Naito for his first points of the tournament. Everything you expected here, plenty of clonking lariats and the like, but for me this was lacking a little something that would have pushed it to the next level. Good, but not their best. ****¼

G1 Climax, Block B: Hirooki Goto vs. Kenny Omega
There’s an interesting stat thrown in by Rocky Romero before the match – that Goto hadn’t lost a singles match at all in 2018. He’s currently 0-2 against Kenny Omega in singles matches, with both of those losses coming in 2016.

We start with Omega taking Goto into the ropes for a clean break, before he looked to go for his arm so he could swipe at Goto’s hair. Don’t do that. Goto shrugs it off as they embarked on a brief series of shoulder tackles, before a kick to the chest rocked Omega as he was quickly forced to shrug out of the ushigoroshi. Omega’s right back in with a One Winged Angel attempt, but their attempts at finishers are stopped as Kenny quickly snapped in with a ‘rana to the outside. Cue the Terminator claps, but Goto gets up to avoid the dive… before he’s booted off the apron and baseball slide dropkicked into the crowd. Now we get the dive as Kenny looked to springboard into the crowd, but Goto flings a chair into Omega on the top rope to save himself… then drags him down with a draping GYR off the apron to the floor!

The pair head into the crowd as they exchange elbows, before Goto teased a suplex onto the bleachers… Kenny avoids it and just slams him onto the wooden bench, which looked like it SUCKED. Omega looks to go higher and moonsaults off of a handrailing, ripping a page out of Kota Ibushi’s book… and now I think everyone’s just a little more nervous about their collision at Budokan next month!

They return to ringside as Omega starts to throw some chops, before a Kotaro Krusher gets a near-fall… but Omega’s offence just riles up Goto, who begins a fight back, only to get caught with a sliding chop for a near-fall. Omega keeps up on Goto, wearing him down and throwing kicks to keep him on the mat, before the Finlay roll and moonsault drew a near-fall as things looked incredibly comfortable for the IWGP champion.

There’s the curse! Goto hits back with a brainbuster, then a lariat as Omega was suddenly heavily on the defensive. Another ushigoroshi attempt ends when Omega wriggled onto the apron, but his springboard back in is caught and turned into an ushigoroshi as Goto finally lands the move, before a German suplex effort was flipped out of as Omega unleashed a V-Trigger out of nowhere. Omega takes it back up top in search for a superplex, before instead nailing a V-Trigger after Goto’d shoved him down. Goto’s still got work to do to avoid an avalanche Aoi Shoudou, eventually headbutting Omega away and countering with Code Red off the middle rope!

Goto tries to keep up with kicks, but the match descends into back-and-forth strikes, ending with a snap Dragon suplex from Omega, and a big lariat from Goto as he was destined to receive another V-Trigger. A reverse GTR’s next from Goto, but the regular GTR ends up turning into the Shouten Kai as Omega was forced to cling on to the match, barely kicking out! They’re back to the strikes, but Omega’s big boot is stopped… only for a V-Trigger to hit the mark as Goto’s again on the mat. He returns with a headbutt, before another V-Trigger left him prone for the Aoi Shoudou as Omega almost picked up the victory. Another V-Trigger’s next, followed by the One Winged Angel, and it’s academic as Kenny Omega took home the win. Another brutal contest ends as expected: Hirooki Goto put in his place as being a big player, but not THE big player, in spite of his spirited showing here. ****¼

On the whole, the fourth night of the G1 was a good show, but underwhelming at points. We’ve been spoiled rotten in recent years by the high match quality in these tournaments, and although the establishing of the Firing Squad’s “classic Bullet Club” routine perhaps needs to be done, it’s also wearing thin extremely quickly. The good thing is the big matches are delivering, and the teases on the undercard are invariably promising… but overall this year’s G1 seems to be still waiting for that killer show to really make everyone take notice.

So, now both blocks have had two matches… we’ve got the Golden Lovers at the top of block B, a huge pile-up in the middle, while Toru Yano and Juice Robinson prop up the table. Next up for Omega in the G1 is Tama Tonga on Saturday, and that’s going to be polarising, especially if the Bullet Club stuff overrides all. We’re back in Korakuen Hall tomorrow for block A action, with Hangman Page vs. Kazuchika Okada headlining in a match that’s a lot more intriguing than it would have been six weeks ago…

Block A:
Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe, Jay White (2-0; 4pts)
EVIL, Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page, Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-1; 2pts)
Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki, YOSHI-HASHI (0-2; 0pts)

Block B:
Kota Ibushi, Kenny Omega (2-0; 4pts)
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Tama Tonga, Zack Sabre Jr. (1-1; 2pts)
Juice Robinson, Toru Yano (0-2; 0pts)